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Can High-Frequency Fertigation Improve Your Yields?

Added 26 February 2022

There are so many ways to improve your cannabis yield. Google once, and you will find endless methods that can help you improve your cannabis yield. One of those is high-frequency fertigation. 

What is high-frequency fertigation, and how can you do it to get bigger, bushier buds? Read on to know more.

About High-Frequency Fertigation

High-frequency fertigation is a new technique to improve cannabis yield that is gaining quite a bit of popularity. 

While it may sound too technical, it essentially means mixing nutrients into the water that you feed to your cannabis plants.

Fertigation allows your plant to absorb the nutrients more efficiently because it can absorb the nutrients better from water instead of searching for them in the soil. Although the roots absorb water and nutrients separately — through osmosis and diffusion, respectively — this small difference allows your plant to grow faster and bigger.

But high-frequency fertigation does not just end at mixing the nutrients in the water — this method also involves feeding the nutrient water to your plant more frequently — as often as five times a day. The same is explained below.

Frequent Watering Schedule 

Drip irrigation

Frequent watering is the cornerstone of this growth method, and it is comparatively better than watering the plant a few times a week (as long as a suitable growing medium is used).

While you can choose from various watering methods, the ideal way to water cannabis with high-frequency fertigation is drip irrigation, i.e., automatic watering. Drip irrigation ensures your plant gets adequate water at proper intervals while saving you a lot of time and labor.

A common question many novice growers have is if frequent watering drowns the plant. Yes, in normal circumstances, frequent watering will drown the plant due to a lack of oxygen at the roots. When this happens, the plant will droop, experience stunted growth, and show signs of nutrient deficiency

However, high-frequency fertigation uses a special grow medium — coco and perlite — which ensures the roots get plenty of oxygen even when they are soaked in the water, thanks to their oxygen and water retention capabilities.

Ultimately, frequent watering is a growth rate similar to a hydroponic plant, which is a terrific advantage!

Coco Coir and Perlite: The Right Grow Medium

Coco peat

Another essential component of high-frequency fertigation is the growing medium. Since you water the plant frequently, you need to choose a medium that retains oxygen to prevent your plant from drowning. 

So, the most recommended grow medium for high-frequency fertigation is coco coir with perlite.

Coco coir is made up of ground coconut husks, and it looks brown with some stringy fibers. Although most manufacturers supply pH-neutral coco, it can sometimes alter the pH depending on how it was manufactured. Usually, it is devoid of any nutrients. Plus, it has a soil-like texture, making it easy to use for most growers. 

Coco coir's primary advantage is its terrific water and air retention capabilities, allowing both air and water to co-exist in the root zone, giving the roots all-time access to nutrients, water, and oxygen. 

With coco coir, we also recommend using clay pebbles or hydroton — light, airy rocks — that add additional air pockets within the growing medium to further enhance the oxygen levels for the root to absorb.

Hydroton's ability to retain oxygen and water keeps the plant's roots moist, with adequate nutrient supply, without drowning them due to lack of oxygen or overwatering.

Again, like coco, hydroton is inert but it can alter the pH in some cases, depending on the way it was manufactured and particle size, etc. If you're growing multiple plants requiring a lot of nutrients, the difference can be huge. Therefore, it's best to check the pH as always no matter what medium you use.

With the proper air to water ratio in the solution, your plant tends to grow much faster, especially when compared to soil-based plants. This is why the growing medium is an essential part of the high-frequency fertigation method. 

Right Conditions for Better Growth

Coco coir and perlite grow medium help your plant grow greener and healthier, with bushy buds, but despite the benefits, the growing medium only works under the right conditions.

Below are some factors that dictate your growing medium's success for high-frequency fertigation.

Coco to Perlite Ratio of At Least 50:50

coco: perlite

The grow medium must contain coco to perlite in a 50:50 ratio. This is because coco's primary job is to retain water for hours while perlite is added to loosen up the soil to retain more oxygen. 

If the ratios are drastic, the growing medium may either contain too much water that drowns the plant or too little water to trigger a nutrient deficiency.

Correct Watering Schedule

watering cannabis

You can only reap the benefits of this growing medium if you water it at the correct intervals. If you don't irrigate at the right time, the growing medium may dry out, causing nutrient deficiency for your cannabis plant. Plus, your watering cycle must be free of flaws that can cause nutrient imbalance in the root zone.

So, we recommend using a drip irrigation system with automatic timers to pump water into the soil. It removes any chances of errors and makes your job much easier.

Smaller Pots for Best Results

fabric pots

Image credit - Hydro_Hiebs

Lastly, you must choose smaller pots for your plants if you are using coco coir and perlite as a medium because the larger the pot, the more water it will hold. This can drown your plant and cause nutrient lockout for it. 

Instead, smaller fabric pots work better for this medium because they don't retain too much water, giving the roots adequate access to oxygen in the root zone.

High-Frequency Fertigation But How High?

As the name suggests, this method requires you to water the plant more frequently — multiple times a day. But how often should you do that?

For most mature cannabis strains, you need to water the plant 3 to 5 times a day. However, this number depends on your plant's genetics and the container size. 

As a general rule of thumb, you need to increase the watering frequency if you are using smaller containers and decrease the frequency for larger containers. This is because smaller containers hold less water — which is good — but it can cause the medium to dry out quicker.

The mantra for watering frequency in this method should be to never let the medium dry out. 

So, we recommend keeping the grow medium's water saturation between 90% to 100% at all times. And it's easy to figure out.

When the coco and perlite medium is 100% saturated with water, the water will make up 50% of the container's total weight. 

Let's take a four-gallon container, for example that is 100% saturated. Here, the container would contain two gallons of water. 

You would know the container is not saturated to 100% when it can hold more than 0.2 gallons of water. 

Use the same formula to figure out if your container is adequately saturated.

Nutrient + Water Solution: The Ideal Strength

Now the question one would ask is, "how much nutrient should I add to the water?"

The answer is tough to determine, but you can do it in no time with patience.

When you purchase fertilizers or nutrients for your plant, it comes with an official nutrient schedule. We recommend starting with only half of the recommended quantities for nutrients and gradually working your way up to the right amount.

Another factor you must consider is that you may need higher nutrient levels if you water your plant a few times every week. So, in this case, the nutrient levels must be lower since you are frequently watering the plant.

Plus, perlite does not retain enough nutrient water, like coco, so you need to consider that and increase the nutrient level accordingly. 

Lastly, your plant would need higher nutrient levels once it starts growing bigger, so you also need to tweak your nutrient solution at every growth stage.

Use the following tips to figure out exactly how strong your nutrient solution should be:

  • The nutrient levels are too low if your plant's leaves start turning yellow or lime green or if the plant looks pale.
  • The nutrient levels are too high if your plant turns dark green; this is a symptom of nitrogen lockout, i.e., you are giving too much nutrients overall.
  • The nutrient levels are too high if your plant starts experiencing nutrient burn.

Adjust the nutrient solution according to your plant's appearance, and you are good to go.

Runoff is another excellent way to figure out your nutrient strength. Every time you water your plant, the runoff must be around 10% to 20%. 

To be on the safe side, you must always keep track of the nutrient levels of your plants. Maybe maintain an excel sheet for it. 

To measure the nutrient levels, use EC or PPM meters to measure the nutrient water before feeding the plant and the runoff water.

These meters also allow you to further understand your nutrient solution's behavior, such as:

  • If the EC/PPM of the runoff water is higher than the original water, the growing medium has a nutrient buildup.
  • If the EC/PPM measurements remain the same between original and runoff water, the growing medium is not retaining any nutrients.
  • If the measurements are too low in the runoff water, the solution is too mild, and you need to increase the overall nutrient levels.

Summary: Can High-Frequency Fertigation Improve Your Yields?

High-frequency fertigation is all about striking the right balance — coco to perlite, air to water, nutrient to water, etc. Do this, and grow much bigger cannabis plants with higher yields.

Also, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Wait for the seedlings to sprout at least a few leaves before starting the frequent watering cycle.
  • Never skip nutrients to ensure nutrient level consistency in the growing medium.
  • Don't let the plant sit in stagnant water to prevent nutrient buildup in the medium.
  • Watch out for little bugs called fungus gnats around the grow medium — they are a sign of overwatering.

If you are a beginner and worried about the complexity of this method, take some time to build up your skills and understand your plants better. Apart from that, there's not a lot of effort to improve your yield using high-frequency fertigation.

 






Comments

Ezzjaybruh
Ezzjaybruh

This is the the singular mention of pH in the entire article..
“ You also don't have to worry about altering the nutrient water's pH balance as it is inert.”
Bruh.
@joshuaholt there are other issues with some parts of this article but this is a serious issue. Frankly would have been better if no mention of pH was made but saying you need not worry about altering pH of the feed? pH is crucial in a soilless medium such as this. Oof, I’m done.

m0use
m0use

@Ezzjaybruh, this article is inert.

JOE_S_GARDEN
JOE_S_GARDEN

There is incorrect information.
1. Auto watering is dangerous in this media. clogs in the irrigation system cause the media to stay dry, which leads to salinization and root damage.
2. Ph It is very important in this media, it is necessary to make different pH adjustments in each period.
3. fabric pot causes salt build-up, so air pots make the most sense.
4. You don't want to use small pots this is because the pot is small and it will grow quickly which means you increase the Fertigate opening, with the right mix you can end your growth with 5 Fertigates a day with 20 liter pots.
I stopped reading after a while that's all for me

JOE_S_GARDEN
JOE_S_GARDEN

@Weird_Jimmy, Of course there is no absolute. but it is easy. The fabric pot holds salt and you have to do other things like you did. In large pots, if this never happens, you fertigate 2 times a day, I 5, so this detail is important to me.
of course it depends on what you expect from the plant

Weird_Jimmy
Weird_Jimmy

@Bigbud_king, for the sake of discussion I am replying with a little different take on your corrections:

Fabric pots work great. I manually fertigate 2x a day. The exterior of the pot basically gets rinsed off too. For each fertigation event you measure the run-off, and when it climbs 30EC above the inflow EC, either higher volume inflow or an ultra low EC high volume rinse should be performed. After such a 'rinse' I follow with a full strength solution. I also use a pressurized sprayer with a solution of H2O2 to rinse down the sides and keep the algae at bay. I also only grow in 1gallon and 3 gallon cloth pots...my results speak for themselves. But like we all know there are tons of variations and methods for growing this magical plant. There are not many absolutes in growing any plant, except for pH! LOL! :sunglasses:

Weird_Jimmy
Weird_Jimmy

For accurate and scientific information on High Frequency Fertigation in Coco coir go to: cocoforcannabis.com

Weird_Jimmy
Weird_Jimmy

I know a couple of you have already posted this but its so dumb it deserves extra spot light..."You also don't have to worry about altering the nutrient water's pH balance as it is inert." ....This is the dumbest thing Ive ever heard. Once again I think the person writing these articles has never grown any plant...ever of any sort. I have grown this way for years, pH is critical for ALL plants and nutrient delivery.